Jalin Hyatt Rookie WR Profile | Who Got Next? Part 7

by Shervon Fakhimi · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

There may not be a more mystifying rookie WR in the 2023 NFL Draft class than Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt. The burner from Tennessee was sparingly used in his first two seasons at Knoxville. As a freshman, he registered 276 yards and two touchdowns on 20 receptions and 28 targets.

As a sophomore, he took a minor step back with a 226-yard and two-touchdown season on 21 receptions and 36 targets. Last season as a junior, he put up 207 yards and five touchdowns in one game.

If you didn’t know who Jalin Hyatt was before he decimated Alabama, you sure as hell knew who he was after! That masterclass was part of a breakout 1,267-yard and 15-touchdown season on 91 targets and 67 receptions that culminated with him winning the Bilitnekoff award as the nation’s top receiver. Despite that success, Hyatt is being ranked as the WR5 on consensus big boards amongst the draft industry, behind Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Zay Flowers. Is this too high? Too low? Let’s see.

Mickey Mouse Offense

Let’s just get this out of the way. It was tough getting a full gauge on how good a prospect Jalin Hyatt is due to the nature of Tennessee’s offense. Hyatt’s route tree was neither advanced nor expansive last season. This isn’t an indictment on Hyatt himself per se, but it leaves more questions than answers. Take a look at this chart that Austin Gayle of The Ringer tweeted.

More than 50-percent of Jalin Hyatt‘s yards the last two seasons came on go routes. That makes some sense. He is in fact very fast. But exceeding 50-percent is unheard of. If you add crossing routes, slants, and post routes (again none of which are very advanced routes to run), then those type of routes make up more than 75-percent of Hyatt’s yardage.

Slot Speed

Not only is Jalin Hyatt not running super-advanced routes, but he’s also running them predominantly out of the slot where receivers have more of an advantage. Hyatt’s career slot rate was nearly 89-percent. This was ahead of even Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Clearly, it worked, so why would Tennessee have stopped?

I don’t fault Tennesse for fully maximizing a player to the best of their capabilities, but how they used him helped him get open a lot and makes it hard to gauge how good a player he actually is. Take into account his heat map of where he ran his routes on the field, courtesy of PFF.

Does that look like the route patterns of a slot receiver? Not really! The majority of his routes are deep towards the outside of the field feasting on breakdowns in the backline of the opposing secondary.

Jalin Hyatt Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

When he actually did get targeted in the middle of the field, it was mostly because of the cushion defenders were giving him to make sure they didn’t get burnt. Even future first-round pick Cam Smith ensured he wasn’t going to become toast against Hyatt. And sometimes when defenses gave Hyatt too much space, he housed it himself anyway.


One thing is for certain about Jalin Hyatt: the guy is a flat-out burner. His 4.39 speed is legit and it shows up on the field too.

After Hendon Hooker‘s unfortunate ACL injury against South Carolina, backup quarterback Joe Milton stepped in for Tennessee. He has a bazooka for an arm and hurled one 60 yards downfield. Hyatt (lined up outside on this play!) simply blows by his defender, runs under the ball, and snags it like it’s nothing. 

Not every pass is going to be perfect like that one, though. Good thing that Hyatt is also pretty adept at tracking off-target balls like a centerfielder. Depending on who his next quarterback is, he may have to get used to this.


You can say all what you want about Tennessee’s offense and Hyatt’s role in it, but there’s no questioning that the guy is super fast and produced on the field. His build and workout metrics are not all that far off from Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave. Garrett Wilson just finished his rookie season ranked No. 11 in air yards among wide receivers with 1,575. Olave did him better with 1,670, ranking No. 8 among wide receivers. And the quarterbacks who threw them the ball were Mike White, Zach Wilson, and Andy Dalton.

Hyatt is nowhere near as polished as those guys were, at least from what he put on tape in 2022. Maybe he’s simply executing the game plan his coaches cooked up for him and there’s more to his craft than he was able to show at Tennessee. Maybe he’s just a Will Fuller type of speed merchant. Who knows.

But the NFL is constantly infatuated with speed and Hyatt is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL. I think he will go in the first round of the NFL Draft. Does that mean I think he is one of the five best receivers in this class? No. I would take Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, and Josh Downs (in any order) over Hyatt without much hesitation.

You could argue waiting for a guy like Kayshon Boutte, Marvin Mims Jr., Tyler Scott, Rashee Rice, Jayden Reed, or, if you’re really looking for a speed demon, Matt Landers and drafting a different position of need might be a more prudent move for NFL teams than spending up for Hyatt. That isn’t me saying Hyatt is a bad player. His speed is super valuable. For fantasy purposes, he should step in and be a best-ball darling from the jump. But I don’t see a star in Hyatt the way I do for other receivers in this class, not yet at least. I think he’s more of a chess piece to play off of other stars than a star himself.